Former FLDS Member Samuel Bateman Stands Accused of Sexually Abusing at Least 10 Minors

Samuel Bateman was initially arrested when police spotted the fingers of children sticking out of the trailer he was hauling.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Mar. 22 2024, Published 7:04 p.m. ET

Report online or in-person sexual abuse of a child or teen by calling the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 or visiting Learn more about the warning signs of child abuse at

Short Creek Valley is made up of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, which is a gorgeous place to be. Sadly, its stunning landscape is marred by a troubling history. This is where disgraced Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) leader Warren Jeffs was found guilty of sexual assault of two minors which resulted in a life sentence plus 20 years. It's also where Samuel Bateman stepped up and tried to pick up where Jeffs left off.

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Residents of Colorado City suspected Bateman had been marrying minors which led to the Colorado City Marshal's Office launching an investigation in May 2021. "Child safety investigators were turned away from the compound," reported KPNX News, so no arrests were made until August 2022. The FBI said that while Bateman was in custody, he was telling his wives to "delete everything" from all digital devices. This prompted an FBI raid in September 2022. Where is Samuel Bateman now? Here's what we know.

Samuel Bateman stands next to his many female followers along with one male follower
Source: YouTube/Law&Crime Network (video still)

Samuel Bateman with some of his followers

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Samuel Bateman is now in a private Arizona prison awaiting trial.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Bateman is being held without bail in a private prison in Arizona. He has been charged with 51 felonies that include but are not limited to conspiracy to transport a minor for criminal sexual activity, interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and production of child pornography, and "counts accusing him of sexually abusing the underage girls he had claimed as his wives."

In 2019, Bateman began convincing former FLDS members to return to the church and, in particular, the polygamy lifestyle. At its height, he had 50 followers who referred to themselves as Samuelites. It is believed that Bateman "claimed his first minor wife in May 2020" when she was 9 years old, per the Salt Lake Tribune. He then spent the next two years traveling all over Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska in order to "collect child brides," the outlet reported. He eventually married 20 women, 10 of whom were minors.

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The court filing also alleges that Bateman forced the girls to engage in orgies, some of which were "recorded or broadcast via video calls with other followers," per the outlet. His initial arrest in August 2022 occurred when he was pulled over during a traffic stop after police noticed fingers of a child sticking out of the trailer Bateman was hauling. Authorities found three little girls inside. While Bateman was released on bond, the FBI raided his compound and arrested him again.

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Samuel Bateman is not the only one being charged.

While Bateman was in jail, the nine minors were placed in homes by the Arizone DCS. In November 20222, eight of the girls were reported missing. "A few days later, law enforcement found them outside an Airbnb in Spokane, Wash., in a vehicle driven by Moretta Rose Johnson, who Bateman had claimed as a wife when she was under age 18, according to an affidavit," the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Two other wives, Naomi Bistline and Donnae Barlow, allegedly worked with Johnson to kidnap the girls at Bateman's request. The three women were arrested in December.

Seven more followers were also arrested, some of whom were "charged with distributing obscene material," per the outlet. Josephine Barlow Bistline "faces federal charges for allegedly sending threatening emails to child welfare workers in a bid to get her two daughters released from state foster care," per another report in The Salt Lake Tribune.

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